Their very busy schedules in recent times as a result of the screening and confirmation of persons nominated to serve as Ministers by President Muhammadu Buhari notwithstanding, members of the upper legislative chamber on Tuesday last week took time out to discuss and pass a motion on the menacing Apapa gridlock.
Sponsored by Senator Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central Senatorial District), the motion was co-sponsored by 106 other Senators making it not among the earliest but the most popular under the 8th National Assembly. This is an indication of the importance the distinguished lawmakers attach to the resolution of the perennial traffic jam in Nigeria’s most important economic environment.
The Senators’ action followed letters sent to them by Nigeria’s leading maritime communication firm, Ships & Ports pointing out the dangers inherent in allowing the gridlock persist unchecked.
Ships & Ports had sent separate letters to each of the 107 Senators and the President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, urging legislative action on the traffic menace.
The letters, dated July 21 2015 were also sent to each of the 360 members of the House of Representatives including the Speaker, Honourable Yakubu Dogara.
“The economy of this great country is hemorrhaging not just because of the declining value of the naira and the crash in the international prices of crude oil but also due to the persistent traffic congestion that has practically brought Nigeria’s major port community of Apapa to its knees.
“Not less than 80% of Nigeria’s trade by volume (and 70% by value) is carried by sea. 75% of Nigeria’s seaborne trade is conducted through Apapa and to allow this important community to be crippled by the menacing gridlock will mean creating more harm to the nation’s economy,” Ships & Ports stated in the letter. It identified poor and dilapidated road infrastructures, lack of parking lots for trucks and the proliferation of tank farms in Apapa as “factors that have combined to create the gridlock, causing trucks to be on the road for upwards of seven days to load or drop their cargo”.
The company said it sent the individual letters to all the lawmakers to ensure that they have full knowledge of the Apapa traffic situation and to galvanize them to action.
Ships & Ports did not stop at identifying the causative factors of the gridlock; it also suggested actions that must to be taken to address it. These include the repair, reconstruction and expansion of the Ijora/Wharf Road and the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway; creation of satellite park(s) for trucks that can hold a minimum of 10,000 trucks per time; and the discontinuation of petroleum products delivery by road, among other measures.
“Our letters are urging the lawmakers to use their good offices to bring the Apapa gridlock and proposed solutions to the floor of the Senate and champion the passing of a bill known as the Apapa Regeneration Bill to provide special intervention fund to address the gridlock for the benefit of the Nigerian economy,” the leading maritime media firm stated.
The lawmakers responded to the letters promptly. While some placed telephone calls to the company to seek more information, others replied in writing promising to act in line with the issues raised.
Senator Oluremi Tinubu, under whose constituency Apapa falls, called the company on 20th October 2015. She promised to sponsor a motion, which she assured, would enjoy the backing of her colleagues.
True to her words, on Tuesday 27th October 2015, the motion came up on the floor of the red chamber.
Acting upon the motion titled; “The Apapa Port Gridlock”, the Senate mandated its committee on Marine Transport, when constituted, to invite the management of the Federal Ministries of Works and Transport and other relevant government agencies to fashion out ways out of tackling the gridlock.
Tinubu in her lead debate noted that 75 per cent of Nigeria’s trade is ship-borne and shipped through the ports in Apapa where cargo and petroleum products bearing trucks regularly cause gridlock on Apapa-Mile 2 and Apapa-Oshodi corridors.
The lawmaker added that the trucks also park on bridges and flyovers for days and weeks. She expressed her concern on the perennial logjam on all access roads in the Apapa area resulting in telling consequences on the country’s economy.
Tinubu said she was mindful of the huge national security, human and environmental risks of the present traffic situation in Apapa, arising from deadly fumes and falling containers as a result of bad roads.
The Senators’ intervention is highly commendable. They have demonstrated that they are truly the representatives of the people and that as far as issues of national interests are concerned, political affiliations become secondary.
We urge the members of the lower legislative chamber to also take decisive action on the letters sent to them by Ships & Ports, while the executive arm of government should prepare to implement recommendations that are bound to emanate from the debates that will follow.
Apapa is too important to the economy of Nigeria to be neglected.
Copyright Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to www.shipsandports.com.ng as the source.